In light of the tragic mass shooting at the nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Ferguson told reporters on the red carpet that he hoped the Tony Awards would give hope to all viewers but especially to those in the LGBT community. “The LGBT community is my community, I love them very much — all of ours, really. When I was a kid, I would always look to the Tony Awards to give me hope and to give me joy, and I hope that we can give that to the nation tonight,” Ferguson said.
Before the Tonys, Ferguson tweeted about the mass shooting in Orlando, calling for gun control. “Hearing about this senseless & horrific tragedy in #Orlando. Heartbroken for my LGBTQ brothers & sisters. Time for change. #GunControlNow,” he wrote.
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) June 12, 2016
Ferguson is not only part of the Broadway community; he is also an active member of and an advocate for the LGBT community. With his husband, Justin Mikita, Ferguson founded Tie the Knot, an organization that sells bow ties to raise money to support marriage equality.
Ferguson wasn’t the only one who sent a message of hope on the Tony Awards red carpet. Legendary Broadway producer Daryl Roth, nominated tonight for Best Musical for Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, noted that the night was about celebrating everyone, regardless of ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, saying, “We have to celebrate everyone tonight and realize how far we have to go.”
In a perfect, Broadway-appropriate response to the Orlando shootings, producer Jordan Roth quoted Rent‘s “La Vie Bohème” while on the red carpet, noting, “The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.” Rent, of course, is one of Broadway’s most popular and legendary productions, in part due to the show’s inclusion of LGBT characters and the battle against HIV and AIDS.
Before the show started, the official Tony Awards twitter account dedicated the show to those affected by the Orlando shooting, writing in part, “Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando.”
— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) June 12, 2016